Monday, May 11, 2009

Wait, What Demons?

Our hotel choice in Ubud felt like a big decision. It was important to set ourselves up somewhere we liked—not only because we’d be there for a while, but also because we’d be trapped INSIDE this particular hotel for a complete 24-hour period. Yep! This year, the Balinese New year, called Nyepi, fell on March 26th which meant that we would have to spend that day in sequestered silence.

It was interesting to see the way different tourists handled this situation. We met one couple from Sydney who were completely panicked about finding a nice hotel room with a DVD player. They couldn’t imagine entertaining themselves quite that long and had purchased at least 15 pirated movies in Kuta to get them through the holiday. Clearly, they were underestimating the entertainment value of a group of trapped, bored tourists with access to alcohol…and a shared swimming pool. Or so we hoped.

Trying not to get caught up in the hysteria that seemed to be taking hold of our fellow tourists, we settled on a cute little place near The Monkey Forest. It didn’t have DVD players, but it did have a really pretty garden. With Lilly pads!

Anyway, we had bigger fish to fry, like the papier-mâché demonic effigies (called ogoh-ogohs) that, according to the accounts we read, would soon be paraded through our village accompanied by “a cacophony of gongs and cymbals.” The ogoh-ogohs would be set on fire so that the combination of noise, music and flames would “chase away the demons for another year.”

Holy shit.

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